Hot weather drying up Northeastern Ont. crops
Low crop yields forcing farmers to import produce to fill supplier orders
Posted: Aug 1, 2012 10:11 AM ET
Last Updated: Aug 1, 2012 12:13 PM ET
As corn prices continue to climb across the American midwest as a result of drought, food producers in northeastern Ontario are experiencing similar difficulties.
The hot, dry weather has strained their ability to grow crops, supply local businesses and feed their animals.
Just ask Sudbury-area farmer Louise Mullally. As she digs her hands into the dirt at one of her Azilda potato fields, the plant she's uprooting is yellow and shriveled.A dead, yellow potato plant is not an uncommon sight in Sudbury area farmers' fields, thanks to the hot dry summer weather of 2012. (Hilary Duff/CBC)
"The potatoes only grow when it's below 25 degrees. When it's above that temperature, the plant just shuts down completely” she said. “The potato itself just stops growing."
Mullally said the dead plants are yielding about eight small potatoes — less than the usual 12 medium-sized ones.
It's a story mirrored by a variety of food producers in the Sudbury area and across the province: hot and dry weather that's taking its toll on crops.
For Mullally, it means she's had to import potatoes from southern Ontario to supply to local chip wagons and restaurants.
An economics professor at Laurentian University said relying on imported produce creates a cycle of loss for farmers.
"Whenever you have farmers having to do that, obviously their profits decrease, so I think it kind of hurts the local economy sometimes,” Charles Daviau said.
The hot summer is also affecting livestock farmers who are having to sell their animals on margin because there isn't enough feed.
Val Gagne farmer Jason Desrochers said the hot and dry weather has made it difficult to grow hay.
“Usually you'll get rain and it will come back and grow,” he said.
“We have quite a few acres of pasture, but if you were restricted on the set amount of acres then it would be pretty tough this year.”
Desrochers said he's sold 100 of his feeding cows early and he's heard of his fellow farmers doing the same.
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